While many in Australia were celebrating the New Year, Brisbane-based Kelley Prowse was flying into Rockhampton, landing shortly before the airport was closed due to flooding.
An active APESMA member and volunteer, Kelley used her skills to assist with the management of the Red Cross evacuation centre in Rockhampton. A temporary home to 160 people, Kelley and her colleagues matched up evacuees with services ranging from meals and bedding to first aid and Lifeline counsellors.
After five days Kelley headed back to Brisbane via Mackay where she helped with the massive job of sandbagging in preparation for the flood waters. Back in Brisbane Kelley swapped her Red Cross hat for her SES helmet, and worked through the night with colleagues evacuating the flooded SES base as well as responding to call outs for assistance in repairing roofs, assessing damage and cleaning up houses and educational institutions.
Were moving into the recovery and outreach phases now, Kelley said. Once the clean up is done we need to do lots of planning and preparation and ensure we can maintain capacity.
A major issue is that trees that survived the flooding are very waterlogged and vulnerable to coming down in the next storm leading to a new wave of demand for volunteer and professional expertise.